Cambridge, May 13, 2019 – Surging gas prices have made fuel efficiency a higher priority for Canadian drivers, according to a new national survey conducted by Leger in mid-April for the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC).
Nine-in-ten drivers surveyed (92 per cent) say fuel economy is now a higher priority for them and 90 per cent understand that proper tire inflation maximizes mileage and reduces fuel costs.
Drivers are right to think they can save at the pump by ensuring their tires are properly inflated. Industry studies show motorists can improve their gas mileage by 0.6 per cent on average – up to 3 per cent in some cases – simply by keeping their tires inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Additionally, underinflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2 per cent for each one PSI drop in the average pressure of all tires. Driving a vehicle with just one tire underinflated by 56 kPa (8 psi) can increase vehicle fuel consumption by four per cent.
$348 million wasted on fuel
According to Statistics Canada, in 2017 Canadians purchased 43 billion litres of gasoline. With a 0.6 per cent gas mileage improvement resulting from proper tire inflation, drivers would have avoided having to buy 258 million litres of gasoline and saved about $348 million. Saving this much gasoline would also avoid the release of 593,000 metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, which equals the emissions of 125,000 vehicles in a year. (Based on $1.35 per litre and one litre of gasoline producing 2.3 kilograms of CO2)
Tire industry research shows that one third of drivers typically have at least one tire underinflated by more than 10 per cent and one in ten have at least one tire underinflated by 25 per cent or more.
Disconnect between knowledge and practice
The survey’s findings reveal a clear disconnect between understanding proper tire inflation improves fuel economy and knowing when and how to measure tire pressure.
- Only 21 per cent of drivers measure their tires’ inflation pressures monthly, which is the industry-recommended interval for pressure checks.
- 63 per cent are unaware inflation pressures should only be measured when tires are cold.
- 34 per cent refer to the air pressure stamped on the tire’s sidewall when identifying the correct pressure for their tires. (The imprinted sidewall pressure is the maximum pressure a tire can contain under maximum load. Prolonged driving at this inflation pressure can result in uneven tread wear and reduced traction, particularly on wet surfaces.)
- 11 per cent rely on visual inspections to determine the correct inflation pressure for their tires. (A tire can be underinflated by 20 per cent or more and look normal.)
“With gas prices surging to a five-year high, it is not surprising Canadian drivers want to make smart fuel efficiency choices,” says Glenn Maidment, president of TRAC. “Consumer education is clearly needed now more than ever to bridge these persistent tire inflation-related knowledge gaps that prevent optimal fuel efficiency, cause drivers to waste their hard-earned money and help protect the environment.”
Easy, four-step approach to measuring tire pressures monthly:
Find the recommended inflation pressure for your tires on the vehicle placard. If you can’t find it, check the owner’s manual for its location.
Remember to only measure pressure when the tires are cold. If you have been driving more than two or three kilometers, wait three hours before measuring.
Use a tire gauge when measuring pressure. Remove the cap from the valve stem, press the tire gauge onto the valve and take the pressure reading.
Add air until the recommended air pressure is achieved. If you overfill the tire, release air by pushing on the metal stem in the centre of the valve, then re-check the pressure.
Beyond tire pressure: fuel efficient tires
With growing environmental concerns globally, tire manufacturers continue to work on designing more fuel-efficient tires. These tires are designed with specialized tread patterns, advanced rubber technologies, lighter materials, and improved aerodynamics. The result is improved fuel economy in the range of two to four per cent. For motorists who drive 25,000 km per year, this translates to $50 to $100 in fuel savings per year, so the average motorist can expect to save hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of the tires. Find the fuel-efficient tire for your driving lifestyle here: www.fuelsavingtires.ca. To learn more about how to save gas by rolling on Low Rolling Resistance tires visit Fuel Efficient Tires page.
TRAC has developed an informative ‘Get Fuel Fit’ Guide’ to help motorists save fuel. The guide also offers valuable tips on tire selection and maintenance as well as driving habits that lower fuel consumption, advance safety and protect the environment.
An online survey of 1,255 Canadian motorists was completed between April 12 and April 15, 2019, using Leger’s online panel. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ± 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.